Teen avoids jail time, mends ties with mum

For much of his life, Sufi (not his real name) argued frequently with his mother. At one point, he stopped talking to her for more than a year.

It was his arrest for criminal intimidation in May last year, when he was 18, that sparked the mending of their strained relationship: Sufi was referred to a triage interview at Bedok Police Division.

The triage system benefits young people aged 19 and below who are arrested for minor offences such as shoplifting and fighting.

It allows social workers to help assess their needs, and refer them quickly to social services such as counselling if needed, instead of prosecution.

Sufi attended the session with his mother in July last year.

This was when the pair found that they could hold a serious conversation without getting angry at each other. Sufi said he hoped for more of such conversations with his mother, who raised him as a single parent, said a spokesman for the Ministry of Social and Family Development.

After the interview, instead of getting a jail term or fine, Sufi was placed in a guidance programme. This involved a case worker teaching social skills such as emotion management and problem solving to the young person and his family, strengthening their relationship.

Besides working on communication skills during Sufi's six-month programme, Sufi's mother learnt to be more encouraging and supportive of him.

Seow Bei Yi

A version of this article appeared in the print edition of The Straits Times on November 18, 2017, with the headline 'Teen avoids jail time, mends ties with mum'. Subscribe